Pantheon Books

Read It: La Perdida by Jessica Abel

La Perdida by Jessica Abel

La Perdida by Jessica Abel

This graphic novel initially reads like a travelogue or memoir of writer/artist Jessica Abel’s time in Mexico. In fact her art style feels like a sketchbook she’s making while she travels. But the main character is named Carla, not Jessica. Maybe it’s to allow her the freedom to fictionalize when necessary or to maintain some people’s anonymity. And then, over halfway through, it slowly and then abruptly reveals itself. I don’t want to say too much because the surprise made the final third a gripping page-turner and one of the most exciting discoveries I’ve read in awhile. Definitely read La Perdida by Jessica Abel.

La Perdida tells the story of the very absorbed Carla, who traveled to Mexico City in the hopes to “find herself”. Her estranged father is from Mexico and she’s attempting to discover her roots. But she ends up falling in with a sketchy cast of characters who are bitter about tourists and American commercialism yet don’t mind taking advantage of them by selling t-shirts to try to make ends meet. As Abel describes it on her site, “A story about the youthful desire to live an authentic life and the consequences of trusting easy answers, La Perdida—at once grounded in the particulars of life in Mexico and resonantly universal—is a story about finding yourself by getting lost”.

The graphic novel, published by Pantheon Books, was heavily informed by the time Abel spent living in Mexico from 1998-2000, which is when the story takes place. After you read it, check out her website. It has a great special features section that gives extensive background and supplemental information about her stay in Mexico and creation of La Perdida. It includes letters to home, photographs, a playlist, a cocktail recipe, sketches and more.

MetaMaus reveals Why Comics

MetaMaus by Art Spiegelman (click to buy at Barnes and Noble)

Art Spiegelman‘s Maus is a really important graphic novel. So much so that it seems kind of silly to feel the need to even point it out. In actuality, it’s a really important book that happens to be a graphic novel.

In case you’ve never gotten around to checking it out or actually don’t know, Maus is the story of Art’s strained relationship with his father, and the elder Spiegelman’s experiences in the Jewish Holocaust of World War II. The first of two graphic novels telling the entire story was released in 1986 and earned a metric ton of accolades. The second followed in 1991, which brought on another wave of critical praise and recognition, including a Pulitzer Prize Special Award. While the Pulitzer Prize has a category for editorial cartoons, the prestigious award for excellence in journalism and the arts had never recognized comic books and hasn’t since. It was one of the most significant steps forward for comics to start to be seen as a legitimate form of expression and art in America. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, it was also one of the most high profile examples that comics didn’t have to be about superheroes. Aside from all of that, it’s a really good read.

Now 25 years later, Spiegelman returns to his most well-known work for a companion book MetaMaus. Included is a new comic by Spiegelman, as well as tons of archival documents, early sketches, and a bonus DVD that includes recordings of his father, and much more.

In excerpts heard in the below trailer, Art Spiegelman talks about why he chose to use comics to tell this story and he talks about the maverick and underground nature comics held for a long time, and still do in some respect.

I really liked the satire magazines, the comic books that made fun of the culture around me. Those were the ones that really seemed to be talking about television, advertising, politics in a way that said primarily the grown-up world is lying to you. And this was the Rosetta Stone that would let you kind of break the code and see what was really going on in the world.

MetaMaus will be released on October 4.

 

The Comic Archive shows comic book creators creating

The Comic Archive has been putting up video interviews with comic book creators looking at how they create comic books and graphic novels.

Interested in how technology was changing the way comics are being made, comics inker Michael Furth started interviewing comic creators on camera and putting the results up on YouTube. About a year later, he’s still going strong. What makes these particularly unique is that most of them show the artists actually working in their studios instead of just talking heads talking about it.

He recently posted an interview with graphic novelist Craig Thompson, creator of the mega-hit autobiography Blankets. His long-awated follow-up Habibi was just released by Pantheon Books. (Unfortunately this is a talking head interview, but fortunately Thompson gives some good answers.)

To give an example of seeing an artist in their work environment, this next one is cartoonist Anna-Maria Jung showing how she uses Photoshop. She also discusses how she learned composition techniques in designing a scene from animation.

The Comic Archive’s website and YouTube channel have more interviews totaling over 100 videos. Most creators have multiple videos which make for more digestible installments. Other featured creators: Khary Randolph, Wes Craig, Dean Haspiel, Chip Kidd, Steve Rude, JM Ken Niimura, Phil Jiminez, Paola Rivera, Rick Geary, Denny O’Neil, Yanick Paquette, Art Thibert, Zander Cannon, Tim Bradstreet, Steve Niles, Marc Deering, Joe Sinnott, Joe Kubert, Dexter Vines, Cliff Chiang, Cameron Stewart, and Brian Bolland.